U.S.-Russia Diplomatic Rift Narrows as Presidents Talk Cooperation on Syria
President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin appear ready to cooperate militarily as the bitter rift over Ukraine gives way to a common interest in combating Islamic State.
The Associated Press reports:
After weeks of accusing Moscow of trying to prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad by bombing U.S.-backed rebels, Obama changed his tune on Wednesday, praising Putin as a “constructive partner” in a nascent diplomatic effort to resolve Syria’s civil war. Putin, too, has issued conciliatory signals, softening his tone about the U.S. and calling for the U.S. and Russia to “stand together” against the extremist threat.
Speaking on the sidelines of a summit in the Philippines, Obama even raised the prospect of military coordination with Russia — a possibility that has seemed remote ever since the U.S. cut off military ties last year over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
“If we get a better understanding with Russia about the process for bringing an end to the Syrian civil war,” he said, “that obviously opens up more opportunities for coordination with respect to ISIL.” He was using an alternative acronym for the extremist group. …
Yet, while the Kremlin is clearly hopeful that cooperation against IS will push Ukraine to the sidelines, both the U.S. and Russia have rejected any link between Syria and Ukraine. A White House official said no matter what happens in Syria, the U.S. won’t lift crippling economic sanctions against Russia until it fulfills its obligations under a Ukraine peace deal reached in February.
Read more here.
— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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